Consumers trust word of mouth advice
THERE are some things that you can guarantee will happen with every recession. One of them is the certainty that consumers will become less loyal to a particular brand and instead begin to shop around much more.
Sticking with a particular brand or company just because that is what you have always done is no longer enough.
In short, companies have to become much more alive to the needs of their customers and can't keep trading on the back of their reputation.
A new survey from management consultants Accenture bares this out but it also shows that price is not the be all and end all with customer service, trust, and convenience all playing key roles in any decision to move from their current retailer or service provider.
The survey has been carried out across a number of countries across the world but this is the first time Ireland has been included.
According to the survey, the majority of Irish consumers, despite the economic hardship, are not willing to trade customer service, product options, or product quality to get the lowest price -- much more so than other mature markets in the survey. Accenture's customer relationship management lead Vicky Godolphin points to the power of word of mouth in Ireland compared to elsewhere.
"The trust Irish people place in a recommendation from someone they know is one of the highest in the world with 90pc of those surveyed placing great value on a personal recommendation. Only Sweden placed a higher importance on word of mouth.
"In Ireland there seems to be much more loyalty to the local convenience store. Business in Ireland is far more relationship driven than in other countries so there is a cultural element to business here as well."
"One thing that we are seeing now is the growing power of social media, with some 50pc of consumers using social media when making a decision on a new purchase."
Despite the growth in social media, the more traditional media channels are still the most popular for marketing, something Ms Godolphin believes companies can't lose sight of.
"It's really important to have a multichannel campaign but companies need to have a clear idea of what they want to achieve with Facebook or Twitter etc., while remembering what they have already."
In other words, it's the old maxim -- know your customer. If your core consumer is, say, old age pensioners, then it's unlikely a huge spend on Facebook will pay dividends.
Companies also need to be able to make themselves stand out after nearly three years of economic hardship.
"Everyone has run 'two for one' or 'buy one, get one free' at this point," says Ms Godolphin. "The key now is to find different ways for companies to get noticed in the current environment."
H&A names Buckley as account manager
H&A Marketing & PR has appointed Lisa Buckley as account manager. Ms Buckley will work with a mix of high-profile consumer and business to business clients including several house-hold name brands in retail, travel, and luxury lifestyle.
Ms Buckley joins H&A from Unique Media, where she handled PR accounts for a wide range of consumer and corporate clients including News International, and Flora. Prior to that, she was with Gill & Macmillan Publishers.
Gaelite signs up for regulation
THE SIGN over a business is often underestimated but it is the first thing a consumer sees when they look at a premises. It is, in effect, the company's greeting to the customer.
Dublin signmaker Gaelite has been in the business for more than 70 years so they know what they're talking about when they say the industry needs regulation. Company MD Finbarr Clarkson believes regulation is urgently needed.
"As an industry we need to be steadfast in the standards we set for ourselves in order to build upon our reputation on an international level.
"One of the most noticeable future trends that we are seeing within the sector is a greater co-operation between signage partners across Europe and internationally.
"If we as Irish signage partners are not able to contribute at this level and validate our offering through accreditation and qualified best practice standards, we will be left behind in this vital process."